Libido, or sex drive, naturally varies between individuals. Having a low sex drive is not necessarily a problem, but if a person wishes to boost their libido, they can try a range of effective natural methods.
Anxiety, relationship difficulties, health concerns, and age can all affect libido. While a low libido is not usually problematic, it can affect a person’s relationships and self-esteem.
In this article, we look some of the best ways that males and females can increase their libido using natural methods.
Natural ways to boost libido
Both males and females can boost their libido using the following methods:
1. Manage anxiety
Having high levels of anxiety is a common barrier to sexual functioning and libido for both males and females. This may be anxiety due to life stress or specific sex-related anxiety.
People with an intense work schedule, caring responsibilities, or other life stresses may feel fatigued and, as a result, have a low sexual desire.
Anxiety and stress can also make it more difficult for someone to get or maintain an erection, which can put a person off having sex. A 2017 review of erectile dysfunction in young men has suggested that depression and anxiety can result in a reduced libido and increased sexual dysfunction.
There are many things that people can do to manage their anxiety and boost their mental health, including:
- practicing good sleep hygiene
- making time for a favorite hobby
- exercising regularly
- eating a nutritious diet
- working to improve relationships
- talking to a therapist
2. Improve relationship quality
Many people experience a lull in sexual desire and frequency at certain points in a relationship. This may occur after being with someone for a long time, or if a person perceives that things are not going well in their intimate relationships.
Focusing on improving the relationship can increase each partner’s sex drive. This might involve:
- planning date nights
- doing activities together outside of the bedroom
- practicing open communication
- setting time aside for quality time with each other
3. Focus on foreplay
Having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time on touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse.
For women, foreplay may be especially important. According to some 2017 research, only around 18 percent of women orgasm from intercourse alone, while 33.6 percent of women report that stimulation of the clitoris is necessary for them to orgasm.
4. Get good-quality sleep
Getting good sleep can improve a person’s overall mood and energy levels, and some research also links sleep quality to libido.
A small-scale 2015 study in women suggested that getting more sleep the night before increased their sexual desire the next day. Women who reported longer average sleep times reported better genital arousal than those with shorter sleep times.
5. Eat a nutritious diet
Following a nutritious diet can benefit people’s sex drive by promoting good circulation and heart health, and by removing specific foods that can decrease libido.
Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease can affect physical sexual functioning. Also, polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect hormone levels, which may also disrupt libido.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables, low in sugar, and high in lean proteins can help prevent disorders that affect libido.
6. Try herbal remedies
There is little research into how effective herbal remedies are at improving sexual function in males and females, though some people may find them beneficial.
A 2015 review study states that there is limited but emerging data that the following herbal remedies may improve sexual function:
People should be wary of using herbal medicines without their doctor’s approval. Some herbal medicines can interact with existing medications, and the Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate them. For this reason, their quality, purity, and safety remains unclear.
7. Get regular exercise
Getting regular exercise can help libido in many ways. A 2015 study of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers testosterone levels, found that regular exercise helped men cope with issues such as body image concerns, low libido, and relationship changes.
A 2010 review of women with diabetes cites research showing that exercise may help lower diabetes-related symptoms in women. The study emphasizes that doing exercises of the pelvic floor may be useful in women without diabetes.
8. Maintain a healthful weight
Some scientists link overweight and obesity to low sex drive, along with other factors related to reduced fertility. This is associated with hormonal factors, such as low testosterone concentrations.
Some people who are overweight may also experience psychological effects, such as lower body confidence.
Maintaining a healthy body weight can improve a person’s sex drive, both physically and psychologically. Eating a healthful diet and getting regular exercise can help achieve this, as well as boost a person’s overall energy levels.
9. Try sex therapy
Sexual desire is complex, with both psychological and physical components. Even when a person has a physical condition that affects libido, such as diabetes, improving the emotional and psychological response to sex can improve libido and sexual functioning.
Therapy is an effective strategy for increasing low libido. Individual counseling can help address negative views about sex, self-esteem, and secondary causes of low libido, such as depression and anxiety. Relationship counseling can help some people work through factors affecting their sexual desire.
Alongside talking therapies, mindfulness therapy may also help. One 2014 study found that just four sessions of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy in a group setting improved sexual desire, sexual arousal, and sexual satisfaction for women.
To find a suitable therapist in your area, search the AASECT directory.
10. Quit smoking
Smoking cigarettes can have a negative impact on a person’s cardiovascular system. Good heart health is important for good sexual functioning.
People who smoke cigarettes may find that their energy levels and sex drive increase after they quit.
Boosting libido in males
Libido in men is often related to testosterone levels, which will naturally decline as men age. Testosterone replacement therapy can help some men.
In men with testosterone deficiency, or hypogonadism, testosterone replacement therapy can result in improved libido, reduced depression, and improved erectile function, according to one 2017 review.
There is little evidence to suggest that certain foods or supplements increase a person’s testosterone levels and sexual function. Some research suggests that zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids may be important dietary components for testosterone.
Boosting libido in females
Sex-related hormones, such as estrogen and estrogen-like compounds, can also affect sexual desire in females.
Many women experience a dip in libido and sexual functioning at menopause, when estrogen levels drop. Estrogen replacement therapy may help some women.
Vaginal dryness is another symptom of menopause. Using lubricants during sexual activity can increase people’s enjoyment.
Women also produce testosterone. Doctors once believed that testosterone might affect women’s sex drive, but to date, research has not found a strong link.
Certain birth control pills may also decrease libido. If a person suspects that their hormonal contraception is affecting their sex drive, they can speak with a doctor about changing pill type.
When to see a doctor
If a person is concerned about having a decrease in libido, a doctor can offer advice and information about potential causes and treatments. Doctors who are knowledgeable about alternative and complementary remedies may also help a person choose natural remedies.
A person may wish to see a doctor for low libido when:
- it appears suddenly or without explanation
- additional symptoms appear, such as high blood pressure or pain
- it occurs after starting a new medication or having surgery
- it causes serious relationship problems or psychological distress
- sex is painful
There is a wide natural variation in people’s sexual desires and libido. It is important to note that having a lower libido than other people is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, if a person wants to increase their libido, there are many methods to try. These include eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, reducing anxiety, and focusing on improving intimate relationships.
Low libido is a complex issue, with relationship, psychological, and physical components. Knowing the cause can help a person find the best treatment.
Because low libido, or a sudden shift in libido, can be a sign of a health condition, it is safest to talk to a doctor before trying libido boosters.
Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST
Written by Zawn Villines